I wanted to like this book more than I did. It was given to me by a nice editor from the Public Affairs publishing house, and the other book she gave me from there, This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor rocked my world really hard. Since reading it I've often consider giving up the glamour of librarianship for life as a baby killer. (It pays okay, but the people trying to murder you gets wearing after a while, from what I understand.)
I bet you know where I'm going with this. Welcome to Shirley, perhaps because my expectations were high, was just okay. Even though I wanted to like it, I'd been holding onto the book for a couple of years. I have so many books checked out from different libraries all the time that it takes me a long time to get around to books that I have acquired on a more permanent basis. But traveling to Europe for a conference, I decided to bring only disposable books with me, and I indeed left Shirley on the desk in my room at Cite Marie Curie.
My main quibble with the book is that while it starts of more or less personal, like a memoir, much of the middle and end are more focused on the science of nuclear contamination and information about activist struggles from Long Island cancer survivors and their families. That stuff could of course be compelling, but unfortunately it didn't seem as connected to the author's story or even to the individuals'. I wonder if McMaster's wrote this book too soon? I know with struggles that I'm close to, I feel like everyone should just get it based on my telling them a few facts about the case. I don't feel like I should have to slowly make the problem real for them.
Regardless, the first half of the book is perfectly enjoyable reading even though it tells a bizarre story--that of an author who had a happy childhood.